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Islamic Rage

by Donald Geddes — last modified Nov 27, 2014 04:15 PM
The atrocities being committed by the Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq have been described by world leaders as “pure evil.”

Islamic uproarWhile the beheading of Westerners has grabbed the attention of the media, of far greater significance has been the terrible scourge against Christians, thousands of whom have been killed and hundreds of thousands left homeless.

Churches have been systematically destroyed in an attempt to get rid of any trace of Christianity in lands where Christians have lived since the time of the Apostles.

Why this unprecedented rage against innocent people just because they are Christian?  The Psalmist (Psalm 2) asks, “Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?” His answer is that this is a sign of their rebellion “against the Anointed One” — the King and Messiah.

We have a good case study of a nation raging against God’s People in the history of  Edom.

The Prophet Amos pronounced judgement on the people of Edom in the 8th  century BC because of their unrelenting rage against Israel and the atrocities they had committed.

Thus says the Lord:
For three transgressions of Edom, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because he pursued his brother with the sword,
And cast off all pity;
His anger tore perpetually,
And he kept his wrath forever.” Amos 1:11

The Edomites were Israel’s neighbours and descendants of Esau who lost his birthright to Jacob because he loved sport and pleasure more than the Lord (Gen. 27). This godlessness became a characteristic of his descendants who occupied southern Palestine in the arid area stretching from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea.

When the Children of Israel left Egypt in the Exodus they sought permission from Edom to travel through their land but were refused. For centuries there was constant friction between Israel and Edom.

After the fall of Judah to the Babylonians in 597BC the Edomites rejoiced (Psalm 137:7). That is why the prophets foretold the judgement on Edom for her bitter hatred.

This happened between the 5th and 3rd centuries BC when Edom was wiped out. Some Edomites settled in southern Judah and King Herod, who tried to kill the young Jesus, was of Edomite descent.

It is clear this rage and hatred against God’s people is really rage and rebellion against the Lord. King Ahab raged against the Prophet Micaiah because he spoke out against Ahab’s sins (1 Kings 22:8). Herodias wanted John the Baptist beheaded because he condemned her unlawful marriage to Herod (Mark 6:18-19). The Ephesians tried to kill Paul because his preaching undermined their trade in idols (Acts 19:28).

It is no wonder then that Jesus incurred the wrath of the religious leaders when He showed up their hypocrisy (Luke 6:11). The people of his home town Nazareth tried to kill Jesus when he pointed out their unbelief (Luke 4:28). Jesus understood this and told Nicodemus, “this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. John 3:19

It is clear the hatred and atrocities of the Islamic State are ultimately directed against God and His people. The source is Satan himself. To claim they do these things in the name of God is sheer hypocrisy. As James 1:20 says, “for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

What is going on in the Middle East is a spiritual battle and therefore God is in it. Not only will he ultimately triumph but he will use Islamic State for his glory as Psalm 76:10 says, Surely the wrath of man shall praise you.

The G20: what did it achieve?

by Donald Geddes — last modified Nov 26, 2014 02:26 PM
The G20 or group of twenty countries with the richest economies meets annually to discuss mainly economic issues which transcend national boundaries. Its meetings in Brisbane were hailed as a great success — but what exactly did it achieve?

Barack Obama Tony Abbott and Shinzo AbeThe G20 economies account for around 85% of the gross world product (GWP), 80% of world trade (or if excluding EU intra-trade: 75%), and two-thirds of the world population. So the gathering of G20 leaders is a powerful body.

Because the G20 attracts world-wide media attention, it always presents an irresistible stage for protestors who crave attention. The protestors in Brisbane represented a variety of causes including anti-Capitalism, poverty, environment, climate change, gay-rights, indigenous issues and political causes.

Did you know the Mouldy Lovers Band pulled out of the Cultural presentation because they felt this was an attempt to distract people from thinking critically about G20 and its agenda?

We may smile at this bit of news but it raises the question “Should we think critically about the G20?” Certainly many ask the question, “Was the huge cost of over $400 million for staging this event and the necessary security really worthwhile?” What benefit will come from this talk-fest? Is it right that only 19 nations plus the EU participate leaving 173 nations out in the cold? Norway is one of these nations who have been particularly critical of their omission.

In the past the G20 was not able to avert the Global Financial Crisis or stop the trend of an increasing gap between rich and poor.

Does the G20 represent increasing globalisation where large international corporations can override national governments simply because of their economic size?

This year’s meeting agreed to establishing an aim to boost the Global economy by 2% by improving infrastructure, reducing trade barriers, promoting competition and reducing unemployment. Issues such as modernising taxation, eliminating corruption and protecting the global economy against future crisis were also included.

All this sounds good except that the countries in greatest need are not included. Many feel that G20 is a rich and powerful club looking after their own interests to the exclusion of others.

If this is true, Christians should be concerned. The Bible is full of exhortations to look after the poor and needy. Psalm 82:3: Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. God’s concern is for the poor:“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord. “I will protect them from those who malign them. – Psalm 12:5. The reason we should not neglect the poor is made clear in Proverbs 14:31: Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honours God.

We have to ask the question, “Could the $400 million spent on staging the G20 have been put to better use? How much poverty and homelessness would that sum alleviate? Have the protestors like the Aboriginal delegation got a legitimate point?

Claiming that the G20 will bring a benefit of $100m to the Queensland economy is not a good enough reason to justify the huge expense and disruption to Brisbane.

So, let us watch with keen interest to see what long term benefits come out of this G20 and if there is a real concern for the have-nots of this world.

Facial Recognition—No Hiding

by Donald Geddes — last modified Dec 13, 2014 08:53 PM
God operates the perfect facial recognition!

A man suspected of child sex abuse has been caught halfway around the world after 14 years on the run from authorities, thanks to facial recognition technology.

Neil Stammer, 48, of New Mexico, was caught in Nepal hiding under the alias Kevin Hodges, after his photo from 1999 was recirculated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on a reissued wanted poster in January.

With new Facial Recognition technology, it may soon be impossible to hide from the law. The average Australian is captured 15 times a day by surveillance cameras so, if the police have your photo (say from a passport or Facebook), software will be able to create a mathematical map of your face which computers can use to trace you.

The software can make corrections to allow for beards, different hair styles, eyeglasses and hats.

What most people do not know is that God operates the perfect facial recognition! If the very hairs of your head are all numbered as Jesus told his disciples in Luke 12:7 then God knows all about us.

In John 10, Jesus describes himself at “the Good Shepherd” and says ‘I know my sheep and my sheep know me—’  ‘He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.’ (NIV) 1 Corinthians 8:3 tells us, ‘But whoever loves God is known by God’ and 2 Timothy 2:19 gives us this assurance, ‘Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his.”’

This means that God knows all about us and he cares for those who are his children no matter what trials we may be going through.

It also means that on the Day of Judgement, God will readily recognise his own children and welcome them into heaven. This will be the ultimate ‘facial recognition’. In his parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus indicates God will as easily separate those who are his from those who have rejected him as a shepherd can tell sheep from goats.

There will be no fooling God the Judge as Jesus indicated in Matthew 7—

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?”  Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

It also means that, like Neil Stammer, no one can hide from the Lord as Jeremiah 23:24 says, “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord. Like from the F.B.I., no fugitive from God is safe.

Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, there I will hunt them down and seize them. Though they hide from my eyes at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent to bite them. Amos 9:3

God’s ‘facial recognition’, therefore, is a source of great comfort to every true Christian but not so to everyone else.